It is considered chic these days to reconstruct former President Bill Clinton into a cross between Austin Powers and the Dalai Lama.
The popular reinvention goes something like this: Bill Clinton, the man of mystery and powerful urges, is now older, wiser and oh so much more self-aware. In these troubled times of global warming, mean rich people and what not, the world craves his enlightened leadership.
If that’s the fashionable view, then count me out. I’m afraid that when it comes to Bill Clinton, I remain as unfashionable as a pair of tasseled brown loafers at a black-and-white ball.
Now, for all you Clinton groupies out there, don’t get me wrong. Bill Clinton’s legacy is many things. He appears to be a hail fellow well met. Certainly, a great public speaker, a heckuva fundraiser and, contrary to the Republican mantra, he wasn’t a horrible president. A bit of a slacker, if you ask me, but not the worst we’ve seen.
But before reincarnating Bill Clinton into the 15th Dalai Lama of Tibet, let’s not forget the Austin Powers (“Are you horny, baby?”) side of Clinton. He remains the embodiment of a modern dirty old man.
Some less charitable might say he’s a classic example of a sexual predator and add that it is naïve to assume his reckless sexual behavior has stopped.
I don’t know about that. But whether he’s on the prowl or not, we can make some judgments based on past performance in the Monica Lewinski debacle. On that record, Bill Clinton for me remains a high scorer on the YSAC — the Yuck Scale of American Culture.
I made up the Yuck Scale just this moment, so a broader definition will have to wait. But I think it’s a useful idea to place Bill Clinton in proper context.
For example, while Bill Clinton’s behavior was despicable, I can’t give him the highest YSAC score. That “honor” would go to Woody Allen, who dumped his wife and married their adopted daughter.
But Clinton would certainly rank higher than Sen. Larry Craig, who was arrested trying — emphasis on “trying” — to fool around in a public restroom.
And I’d have to rank Clinton below Michael Kennedy, the thirtysomething political activist and son of Bobby Kennedy, who had sex with his children’s baby sitter. The baby sitter was 14 years old. Police investigated him for statutory rape until the day he hit a tree while playing football on skis and died.
Yuck! 8. Karma: 10.
Clinton’s affairs, it can be said, were at least with persons of age. But he preyed on women who were at a distinct power disadvantage, which, for those inclined to issue Clinton a complete pass, should remember is the classic definition of sexual misconduct. If you give dirty old Bill a pass on his sexual behavior, then you must give it to a whole bunch of other folks, some of whom you’d never allow to take the kids on an overnight camping trip.
But I digress.
Where to place Bill Clinton? Forget the long list of disadvantaged women for whom he’s alleged to have, you know, been with. Let’s go only with the famous case: Lewinski.
Bill Clinton had sex in the Oval Office with a White House intern entrusted to his care.
That’s my ranking and I’m sticking to it.
If you’d like to see the former president in person — or be forewarned about his whereabouts — he’ll be hanging around a local school (Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy) on Monday night.
He’ll no doubt give a rousing speech. But unless he simultaneously reveals a cure for heart disease and cancer, he’ll still be a solid 7 on the YSAC. Why? Because, as any old reincarnated Dalai Lama would know, that’s how karma works.
Hate to say goodbye
Las Vegas said goodbye to two entertainment icons last month.
First, Rat Pack mainstay Joey Bishop passed on at the age of 89. We ought to find a way to remember him. After all, Sammy Davis Jr. has a cultural center in Las Vegas and both Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin have prominent roadways named after them.
But poor old Joey Bishop is largely unremembered. Let’s fix that.
Second, Robert Goulet died from lung complications last week at the age of 73.
Every year, the Goulets sent out the best holiday cards. The format was pretty simple. The cover of the card contained a picture or caricature of him and his wife, Vera. Then, you’d open the card and on the inside back was another picture of him and Vera.
Each fall I looked forward to the Goulet card. I’m going to miss not getting one. Robert Goulet was a good friend to Las Vegas.
Sherman Frederick is publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and president of Stephens Media. Readers may write him at email@example.com.SHERMAN FREDERICKMORE COLUMNS